Tag Archives: top chef

Pig cheeks at Navarra

13 May

This weekend Ottawa’s own, Chef Rene Rodriguez won the latest edition of Top Chef Canada. Chef Rodriguez runs Navarra on Murray St. here in Ottawa. Sarah and I ate at Navarra in 2010 and it was great. I thought I would repost my original post today in honour of his win. Congrats Chef Rodriguez!


Last Saturday my beautiful girlfriend took me out to supper at Navarra Restaurant for my birthday. Navarra, located on Murray St. in the market, is a small Spanish influenced restaurant. The food is inspired by the regional cuisine of Navarra, Spain. Navarra’s capital city is Pamplona, best known for the running of the bulls! One of the first interesting things about Navarra is that when you are making a reservation, they don’t ask you when you would like to dine but rather ask which sitting you would like. We chose the latter one, this way we could eat more snacks (cheeses and pate before going!). When we got there I was a little surprised by the size, it isn’t big, so make sure to make a reservation. We were greeted when we came in and shown to our seat right next to the front window. Whenever I get seated right next to the window at a restaurant, I always joke it’s because I am pretty and they want to attract more customers. In reality they probably think I am scaring some of the customers away! We had a great server that night; he helped with explaining what some things on the menu were and was very friendly. I’ll let everyone know, if you’re in to tall, dark and handsome men, with a bit of a Spanish accent, the servers are one of the main attractions! (I am thinking of one person in particular that I used to work with, I believe you know who you are!)

While the restaurant and the servers were nice, the real reason for visiting is the food! Chef Rene Rodriguez, shows off the delicious products and his amazing skillapp in the kitchen. To start we shared the tasting of Iberico Pig Salchichon with coriander spiced hazelnuts, roasted beets, pear chutney, goat cheese crustini and baby arugula. While the whole plate looked and tasted amazing (I could have eaten a whole pound of the hazelnuts!) the star was by far the Iberico Pig Salchichon. Iberico Pig (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Iberian_Pig) is a breed of black pig form the Mediterranean. They are known for their ability to accumulate fat under the skin and between muscular fibres. This fat was evident in the Salchichon, a type of sausage. I enjoyed eating the slices of sausages on their own.

short ribsFor our mains my girlfriend had the red wine braised beef short ribs with  gorgonzola polenta, friend rapini, fresh herbs and piquillo BBQ sauce. While normally I find people use too much gorgonzola and thus it overpowers the taste of everything else, this wasn’t the case. From the couple of bites I could steal it was a perfect balance, and tasted amazing, the short ribs were fall off the bone delicious!


For my main I felt like being adventurous and tried somecheeksthing I had never had before, pig cheeks. I have never had pig cheeks before and worried that they either wouldn’t taste very good or that the texture would totally throw me off, but I wanted to be adventurous! I was rewarded! The pig cheek that I had was amazing. It came with preserved baby tomato jam, thyme infused parsnip silk, roasted eggplant, pistachio romesco, basil, sundried tomato vinaigrette, and spot prawn. The pig cheek was nice and crispy, the inside was nice and soft. It tasted a little bit like bacon! The parsnip silk was really good too, especially with the roasted eggplant. The whole meal was amazing, I ordered a Spanish beer and even that was great!

I would totally recommend this restaurant! If you are going to go, try not to go when someone is holding a Christmas party, people always seem to get really loud! If you want more info on Narrvana check out their website at www.navarrarestaurant.com. Up next is Zen Kitchen, stay tuned!

Navarra on Urbanspoon

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